iPhone iGoogle Now Works in Skyfire, Opera Mini, S60 Webkit

IGoogle for iPhone in Opera Mini

When I covered Google’s resurrected IGoogle for the iPhone, I complained that Google’s overly aggressive browser detection and redirection  was blocking users of other advanced mobile browsers like S60 Webkit and Opera Mini from the site.

Today, I noticed that Google seems to have made a subtle change to the way it handles unrecognized and unsupported browsers. It’s now possible to force the advanced mobile version to be delivered to any browser.  Visit google.com/m/ig?uipref=6 to try it. You need to use that exact URL, anything else gets redirected  to the WAP version.

Now obviously, the iPhone/Android specific site will not work in just any mobile browser. At a minimum your browser needs to support JavaScript. There are probably some dependencies on features found only in the Safari or Android browsers, so some things may not work. But the iPhone/Android site does seem to work perfectly with Skyfire (image, below) and with some minor usability issues in Opera Mini 4.2 (image, above). It works  partially with Opera Mini 3.1, Ozone, Bolt,  the S60 WebKit browser (image bottom)  .

Admittedly I’ve only tried it with six Gadgets; Google’s Gmail, Reader, News, Calendar and Finance and Logika’s TwitterGadget.  All work as expected with Opera Mini and Skyfire and all but News work in the S60 Browser. The iPhone – iGoogle pages are formatted for a minimum screen width of 320px so you do need to use landscape on QVGA phones to avoid horizontal scrolling. The sole exception is Opera Mini 3.1 which re-flows everything to screen width.  It’s not pretty in 3.1 but is usable.

Google Reader in iGoogle on Skyfire

I tried the iPhone iGoogle with all the other other mobile browsers I could find that support JavaScript with the following results. All except the BlackBerry Browser were tested on a Nokia N95-3 NAM.

Browser Results
Opera Mini 4.2 All six gadgets work. Expanding and contracting widgets is a little slow and causes the  page to jumps to top  requiring repositioning.
Opera Mini 3.1 Gmail, Reader, Calendar, Finance  and TwitterGadget all work. News doesn’t open. Pages are heavily reformatted and  a bit ugly but usable.
Opera Mobile 8.65 Finance works, Twitter Gadget crashes the browser, Gmail is missing entirely and the other gadgets  open but display no content.
Skyfire Everything works well.
S60 Browser News displays no content but all the others work very well.
Ozone 0.01 Gmail, News, Calendar and Finance are OK. Horizontal scrolling is needed in Reader even in landscape.  TwitterGadget is unusable as its login form is missing.  Ozone crashed a couple of times opening different widgets but the crashes were not consistently reproducible;le.
Bolt 1.04 Reader, Gmail and News work well.  Calendar, Finance and TwitterGadget  are missing
UCWEB  6.3 S60 and Java, 6.6 Java, Page loads but the widgets aren’t clickable.
BlackBerry OS 4.1 Browser Widgets open expanded. Scrolling is unusably slow.

If you try this in other full-web mobile browsers like Pocket IE, recent BlackBerry browsers and the Telca and NetFront browsers found on Samsung and LG touch screen feature phones please leave a comment letting us know how it works.

Kudos to Google for opening up this back door so that users of unsupported browsers can try this advanced mobile site. Is it useful on any of these browsers? Actually I’d say that it is, particularly with Skyfire, Opera Mini, the S60 browser and Bolt.  Not everything works in every browser but the overall user experience is still better than with the generic version of mobile iGoogle.

The fact that it works as well as it does suggests that Google’s GWT, the open source JavaScript framework which iGoogle for the iPhone is likely built with, is actually able to detect and optimize mobile content for many more mobile browsers than just Safari and the Android browser. I wonder if anyone outside of Google is using GWT for mobile web development and trying to support browsers beyond the iPhone and Android?

TwitterGadget in iGoogle on S60 WebKit

Related Posts:
Ozone Browser For S60 and UIQ 3

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